Q&A with International Automotive Components (IAC)

By Matthew Beecham | 9 January 2013

Rien Segers

Rien Segers

Continuing just-auto’s series of interviews with major interior suppliers, Matthew Beecham talked with Rien Segers, Senior Vice President Engineering & Development Europe, International Automotive Components, about instrument panels.

What do consumers look for and want from their car interior, specifically the material covering their instrument panel?

Quality is key. Consumers look for quality design, quality feel, quality touch, quality gaps and quality acoustics. 

Do you see any other trends in instrument panels?

Yes, pedestrian restraint safety is another trend. The upper IP must meet Euro-NCAP pedestrian safety regulations. This means that the upper IP must be designed bearing in mind possible pedestrian  ”collision”. Especially the upper IP area just below the windshield should be designed to absorb impact energy. 

Instead of a drive towards integration, there appears a drive toward standardisation in order to cut costs?

There is both.  A drive towards integration as well as a drive towards standardisation but of non-visible components. 

In terms of the material used to cover the instrument panel, what trends are you seeing there?

Materials with a kind of pleasant ‘natural’ feel, like slush skins, and/or the increased use of real natural materials, such as various leathers, materials with subtle visible natural fibres are strong trends.

As we understand it, a key trend that within five years is that more than 60 percent of cars will have lighter coloured interiors, which presents more of a challenge for keeping the interior clean. How is IAC addressing that challenge?

For one thing, lighter colours could be applied to areas not giving reflection issues to the windshield, for example. On the other hand, there are grains, plastics and surface materials like foils and textiles, which are specially developed for easy cleaning. Then again, interior trim colour preferences could differ between various geographical markets.

To what extent is the use of leather spreading from seats to doors and instrument panels?

There is an increasing use of leather in many market segments. For example, optional local inserted parts could be covered with leather to realise a trim walk from non-leather to leather covered parts within one vehicle, e.g. in door inserts.

Is there a trend towards using leather in different ways? i.e. perhaps focussing on texture and finish, featuring details such as stitching, cut-outs, embossing, laser etching and mixing of leathers?

Some leather applications, as described, begin to appear in the market. Key, however, to most leather applications is the natural look, feel and smell, in which obviously the various stitching techniques play an essential role.

The remainder of this interview is available on just-auto's QUBE research service